Troester v. Starbucks
Question: How should the small tasks before and after clocking in/out be accounted in hourly wages for hourly waged employees?
Answer: Simply put, however simple the task, all tasks must be accounted for in the hourly wages for the employees.
California Supreme Court heard and decided this issue in Troester v. Starbucks this past July 2018. The employees of a famous coffee franchise, Starbucks, brought this case to court regarding the 4-10 minute tasks that were not accounted for in their hourly wage.
The main plaintiff, Troester, claims that from the year 2008 to 2009 the total number of hours that was not accounted in his pay was about 12 hours and 50 minutes. These tasks, performed before or after clocking in/out, include bringing in the patio furniture from the outdoor seating areas, locking the door, and setting the alarm on or off. Those employees like, Troester, argue that the longer they stay with the company each minimal tasks and each minute adds up. As a result, they deserved to be paid for that time.
The Federal Courts have a view that such minimal and insignificant tasks do not need to be included in the hours paid, but the California Supreme Court differs in its opinion. California Wage Order requires that all tasks that the employer knows about or should know is to be included in the time worked however insignificant or minimal the task is.
Due to this case, all employers with employees must recognize the existence of a higher scrutiny towards employers. If your company hires hourly waged employees, it is crucial that you keep a thorough record of all hours worked and review such records frequently. Additionally, it is important that the employers operate under legal company protocol for employees.
The following are questions employers must keep in mind to prevent raising such issues:
- Are there tasks, however small, that your employees must perform before and/or after clocking in/out?
- If so, on average, how long do each tasks take?
- Are such tasks kept in the record and accounted for in the pay?
If you employ hourly waged employees, you should make sure that your company is operating in compliance with all applicable employment laws. Or if you yourself are an hourly waged employee and have a question whether you are receiving proper compensation, please contact our law firm.